The Canarian Government’s own research has shown that around 150 beaches in these islands, including iconic resorts like Las Teresitas here in Tenerife or Las Canteras in Gran Canaria, are at risk of disappearing by 2050 through rising sea levels and coastal erosion as a result of the climate crisis. Apart from beaches themselves, many other coastal areas are vulnerable, bringing not just loss of territory but significant economic cost.
These conclusions are the culmination of the PIMA – Plan de Impulso al Medio Ambiente (Coastal Adaptation Environmental Initiative Plan), a study carried out by the regional Environment Department which has assessed a range of possible scenarios faced by these islands between 2050 and 2100 should no climate action be taken. A worst case scenario sees 10.6% total area being lost in just the next 28 years, impacting hugely of course on plans for future tourism development.
The Government is already focusing on sustainable solutions rather than continuing to promote mass tourism, or so it claims: this study shows they need to renew that commitment and, of course, it calls into question any new plans for developments like mega hotels in low lying coastal areas like El Puertito. Residents might feel the message comes closer to home when they hear that Alcalá in Guía de Isora will have almost completely disappeared in the same period, with the beaches in El Médano in Granadilla and Troya in Adeje at risk of vanishing by 2100.
The study confirms that a prime factor for vulnerable beaches is their inability to retreat in the face of rising sea levels because of urban development, beaches where every centimetre of sea level rise removes land that can’t move backwards. The effects will not only be physically dramatic but also economically so, with losses of up to €5bn anticipated due to fewer attractions for the very tourists that wilfully negligent development is currently still trying to attract.
It is self-evident that we cannot afford this. And for those who don’t care for the present or future state of our environment or physical home here, maybe the economic costs will matter more. Whatever the motivation, we have to take this seriously, with losses directly resulting from material infrastructure damage alone exceeding €900m in the worst case scenario as explained in the television video report below.
Regional Minister for Ecological Transition José Antonio Valbuena says that the need for action is now critical, and that climate legislation must be speeded up. We can all play our part, however, and join environmentalists in their clarion call for opposition to heedless over development. We have a clear choice. It really is up to us.